A local man who has dedicated his life to the Boys’ Brigade (BB) has been presented with a British Empire Medal (BEM) at a ceremony at East Dunbartonshire Council HQ.
The BEM is the latest prestigious honour bestowed on Alistair Whitelaw from Lenzie, who has received many accolades for his work with the 1st Lenzie BB Company over the last 50 years.
Since 1965 Alistair has given up weekends and evenings to work with young people in the community in his numerous roles as a BB Officer and also as a Duke of Edinburgh Award instructor. He has been BB President’s and Queen’s Badge Instructor, Wayfaring and First Aid instructor and the Company’s colours holder. Alistair has also taken the BB Bible Class on many occasions and organises the annual 1st Lenzie BB Christmas card delivery for charity.
HM Lord-Lieutenant of Dunbartonshire, Rear Admiral Michael Gregory OBE, presented Alistair with his BEM on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen at an Investiture in the Council headquarters in Kirkintilloch this week.
Admiral Gregory said, “Thanks to his unwavering dedication, Alistair has shaped the lives of many young people in Lenzie over the last 70 years. He has gone above and beyond the call of duty as a BB Officer with 1st Lenzie Company and his commitment as a member and Elder of Lenzie Union Parish Church and as a Duke of Edinburgh Award instructor, is very admirable.
“There are many elements to the work that I do as Lord-Lieutenant of Dunbartonshire, but meeting people like Alistair, who have made such a tremendous impact on the lives of others, is undoubtedly the highlight.”
Alistair has previously received recognition for his work and in 2011 he was awarded the Strathkelvin Battalion’s Long Service Award for 62 years’ service and he was presented with a long service certificate on behalf of Lord Griffiths of Bury Port, President of the Boys Brigade in 2015. In 2016 he was given a Royal Commendation for his 50 years’ service to the 1st Lenzie BB Company and Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme, presented by the Earl of Wessex at the Palace of Holyrood House. More recently, in 2018, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Youth Link Scotland, Youth Worker of the Year Awards from John Swinney, MSP, the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary.
East Dunbartonshire Provost, Alan Brown, said, “Alistair is a well-respected and much admired member of the Lenzie community, and even after 70 years of commitment, he is still inspiring young people as an officer at the 1st Lenzie BB Company. It was an honour to meet Alistair and a great pleasure to welcome his family and friends to the Council Chambers to see him receive the BEM for his services to the Boys’ Brigade in East Dunbartonshire.”
The Investiture was also attended by Vice Lord-Lieutenant Jill Young, Deputy Lieutenant Mr Gerard McElroy who read the citation and other Deputy Lieutenant members of the Honours & Awards Committee.
Alistair said, “It has been a very rewarding experience working with young people for so many years. Very often young people get a bad press, but having been involved with both the BB and the Duke of Edinburgh Awards I know what a wonderful contribution young people make to society.”
Alistair continued, “It is a great honour to receive the BEM and I would like to thank my friends and family, and particularly my wife Margaret, for all their support.”
Music for the special event was provided by the East Dunbartonshire String Orchestra, featuring pupils from Bearsden Academy and Douglas Academy.